Brooklyn Brewery’s Black Ops is back again in pint-sized cans — again relying on Four Roses barrels to age its hearty Russian Imperial stout for nine months before release.
I found the 2023 expression rather fruitier than prior editions, and quite a bit less fizzy. Brooding with notes of prunes and macerated figs, the beer is as rich and dark as ever — but immersed in a punishing amount of chocolate, dark caramel, and vanilla cream to give all the dark fruits even more of a dessert-like quality. Extremely sweet as it develops in the glass (and warms a bit), the beer slowly converges on something approaching chocolate-covered raisins, with a nod toward Tawny Port. Chewy with overpowering molasses notes and slightly saccharine on the back end, I didn’t get the level of refinement and cohesion from this year’s edition that I’ve experienced in prior offerings.
B+ / $16 per four-pack of 16 oz cans / brooklynbrewery.com